By Jacob Wheeler, Diversity Co-Editor
The LGBTQIA community in many parts of the country is a largely underground community that, out of necessity, has to operate out of the shadows in the corner, for fear of persecution by mainstream society. This is especially true for those who are still dependent on their parents for financial support. Imagine having a fear that if your parents or guardians found what gender you did or did not find more attractive, or what gender you may or may not be romantically inclined to, or what gender you could or could not identify, that you could potentially have life ended as you know it. The scary fact is that it does happen. According the Williams Institute at UCLA, 20 to 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT+, and in most of the country they have very few resources to help themselves with.
Physical aggression, violence, and verbal abuse have created an atmosphere of oppression between those who identify themselves as part of the LGBT community and those who are not. This atmosphere is the main reason why it is difficult for those who identify as LGBT to seek help, or support when it is needed. Because oppression instills a fear of rejection, that makes us believe that our issues will not be taken seriously, or will not matter. It encourages those in hiding to stay hidden and keeps them from being their true selves.
At our own high school, we have a wonderful group of individuals who run a local Gay-Straight Alliance or GSA, headed by junior, Abel Mandujano. As a member of the LGBT+ community himself he has seen the full spectrum of what society has to offer in the way of opinions and free speech. He himself has been harassed, physically, verbally, and emotionally about his sexual orientation, as is a common experience for those within the community. He decided that he wanted to provide a safe haven for the LGBT+ at our school and decided to become involved with the GSA, knowing that there were a lot of other kids out there just like him who really did not have a place to turn to for help. Although they recently they had to change their meeting schedule because of some threats against Abel.
The Gay-Straight Alliance meetings serve not only to empower LGBT+ at our school, but to encourage and support LGBT+ youth and Adults in the immediate and surrounding communities. Just recently they have started a fundraiser to raise monetary and clothing donations for homeless LGBT youth and adults who may not be able to afford the things they need. This fundraiser and similar fundraisers are incredibly important as we really have no government implemented or public programs that adequately help manage the problem. In fact there are very few reliable sources reporting on the issue.
While we, as a society, have come a long way from how we used to talk, treat, and solve these issues, we still have work to do. Whether or not you are part of the LGBT+ community or not, please do your part and speak out against hate and oppression so that maybe one day, someone will not have to hide who they truly are.